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ABSTRACT: This article compares two industrial disasters in the offshore oil industry, the explosion and fire on Piper Alpha off the coast of Scotland in 1988, the world's worst offshore disaster, and the blowout and explosions on Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. It attempts to answer a simple question: Given the enormity of the first tragedy and the careful analysis of its circumstances and causes, why were the lessons of previous failure not learned by this globally organized industry, in the very heartland in the United States? The answer tells us much about the ability of corporate capital to configure regulatory regimes in its own interests and to do so in a manner that continues to threaten the safety and well-being of its employees and the wider environment.
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